Are Herbs Weeds or Treasures?
Many herbs have been introduced into Australia and because they are not native plants, they have often few competitors for resources such as water, soil nutrients and light and have few predators. Subsequently, these plants can grow and spread unchecked, endangering native vegetation and even various animal species such as birds and insects.
Weeds certainly can be a real threat to native flora, fauna, rain forests and even aquatic ecosystems. Recalcitrant herbs are targeted by the authorities for eradication or sprayed on an ongoing basis, in an attempt to control their spread and protect sensitive ecosystems.
You don't need to go to exotic places like the rain forests to find medicinal plants, they usually grow right at your feed; on footpaths, roadsides, garbage dumps, even in your garden.
Given that most medicinal plants are weeds and because weeds grow as prolifically as they do, they are often easy to cultivate - you will actually have more of a problem keeping them in a designated area, rather than a problem growing them.
Wildcrafted herbs are herbs gathered from the wild. The advantage of wildcrafted herbs is that these generally are very healthy and full of the desired medicinal properties. Wildcrafted herbs are usually native to an area and thus are not weeds. They often occur in clusters and grow in 'ideal' conditions under which they can attain their full medicinal potential.
A problem with wildcrafting medicinal plants occurs where there is little or no control over the amount that can be harvested at any one time or by any one person, at least this is the case in Australia. This can decimate a local population of wild medicinal plants. Taking of any vegetation is illegal without authorisation in Australian National Parks and protected areas for this reason.
Some medicinal plants are actually becoming rare and endangered and the harvesting of these species should at the very least be regulated. Better still, organic farming of such herbs should be encouraged and promoted. This would provide struggling farmers with alternative cash crops during times when their primary sources of income are not performing well.
Weeds or Treasures - it really does not matter what you call them, the fact remains they are often very powerful medicinal plants that have the potential to address many of today's major health problems and they have done so for thousands of years...
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